136 Tasting Notes


Full-flavored and roasty mate. Satisfying and nicely warming for this cold January day. Would be a good base for adding ‘dark’ complementary flavors like cocoa nibs/vanilla, if you’re about that as I sometimes am. I don’t think it’d work so well with citrus or other bright flavors. This would also be a great one to add to your coffeemaker if you’re looking for a coffee-mate blend. Decent also on its own.

Good for 1 or 2 solid re-brews.

I do like supporting Guayaki but I actually like Lupicia’s plain mate a bit better though I don’t know anything about their socio-economic sourcing.

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Although I was expecting a typically juicy green floral oolong here I was nonetheless happy with the brew. This tea is very well-rounded and smooth though a bit roasty. Really pleasing soft buttery complexity with a mild gardenia-like floral, especially in the aftertaste.

Flavors: Floral, Gardenias, Honey, Hot hay

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This tea is a good relaxant so it gets some points for that to counterbalance the relatively uninspired flavor profile. The spearmint is on the muted side and the stevia gives it a slightly ‘sweetened’, as opposed to naturally sweet, flavor. It’s pleasant enough, just wouldn’t buy it for the flavor alone.

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drank Golden Yunnan Black by Tao Tea Leaf
136 tasting notes

Enjoyed this as a wake-up tea this morning. Solid choice for a straightforward, non-complicated, medium-bodied cup to ease the eyes open. A little malty and a very nice apricot note, which is a bonus I love to find in a black.

Thanks to Tao Tea Leaf for the generous sample.

Flavors: Apricot

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drank Tippy Yunnan by Harney & Sons
136 tasting notes

A bit of smoke, a bit of metallic ting on the tongue and a bit of malt. Strength is nice but the flavor profile is just okay.

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drank Yerba Maté Chocolatté by Guayaki
136 tasting notes

Liking this better than Republic of Tea’s version, Double Dark Chocolate Mate. One reason being that RoT’s version requires 2 bags and a splash of almond milk to get full enough flavor. Drank this one bare and it was decent… it has a brighter and well-orchestrated flavor profile. Got a sample packet without ingredients listed so it would be interesting to see how the ingredient lists of the 2 teas compare.

Would love to find a great chocolate mate, if it’s out there!

8 min or more
Cameron B.

I liked Chocolate Rocket from David’s a lot, not sure if you’ve tried that one. It’s chocolate and raspberry. :)


Can’t remember if I’ve had that, Cameron. I wasn’t a fan of David’s Chocolate Chili Chai or Cocoa Canela… maybe the Chocolate Rocket deserve a shot, sounds good!

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drank Nina's Japon by Nina's Paris
136 tasting notes

Got this in a great swap with Christina some months back, and it’s different in a good way. The flavors pull together well, a buttery-textured toasted rice/hazlenut with a peek of vanilla/caramel. Reminiscent of Chicago Tea Garden’s Sticky Rice Puerh Tuocha with a whiff of vanilla/caramel added. Resteeps well.

This would be a perfect tea to share for an evening in front of the fireplace. Full, soft, comforting and yet a little complexity.

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drank Russian Morning No. 24 by Kusmi Tea
136 tasting notes

Never been a fan of tahini, always choosing the hummus that has the lowest amount of it, but that changed when I tasted a ‘craft’ tahini at this year’s veg fest in DC… “Soom” Tahini (from Philly) was sampling theirs at a booth and the flavor just floored me: it was superb, malty/roasty/nutty, and almost sweet. Delicious right off the spoon!

So I picked up a jar as a treat for my sis-in-law, who’s Israeli, but then she confessed she’d never use it so it sat on my counter for a few months just taking up space as I mulled over who else might enjoy it. Yesterday I said whatever, opened the jar and spread it on toast with my favorite local honey. OMG so good, and it’s mine. This morning it went on toast with fig butter, another Win.

So about this tea. Trying to clear out my ‘just pretty good’ teas since I don’t have enough space, pulled out the Russian Morning planning to flavor it with a little brewed Vanilla Commoro left in the fridge last night. Went a little heavier on the leaves and steeped it longer, about 4 minutes, and found it tastes great plain – - so boosting my rating and the Commoro goes back in the fridge. Plus, ends up it is a surprisingly perfect accompaniment to my new breakfast toast. If I ever open a bed & breakfast, this tea/toast combo goes in the rotation, no question!

(Good flavor for one steep only.)

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Nosegasm. More than the visceral “mmmm!” that spontaneously accompanies an exploratory inhale of a new tea, this was actually an “ooooh!” I think this is my highest rating ever for the brewed fragrance of a tea. Seriously as much as I wanted to taste it I was impelled to just continue inhaling it for a minute. In a sublime zen-pleasure kind of way.

Ok, moving on … I wanted to compare this to another Fujian today, Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu. Brewed both at 3 minutes at recommended temps and quantities.

The Bailin Gongfu was more chewy and caramelly, and had a bit of a lychee note. The WP Fujian was more malty. Where the BG was chocolatey, the WP is a cocoa nib (as Dinosara noted) or much darker chocolate, as well as a noticeably lighter flavor and mouthfeel. The slight smokey note of the BG was absent in this one.

Both evolve well both with cooling down and on the second steep, though the BG held more flavor on the latter. The BG has a longer, richer aftertaste with a bit more astringency to it.

The WP Fujian maintains a malty, cocoa nose while the BG has as a bit of what I can only identify as a whisper of earl grey fragrance that I find in some non- earl grey teas. Why does that bergamotish perfume appear when i’m not expecting it?

Side by side tastings would’ve been a good move but I ended up brewing them sequentially by the cup to keep it simpler. Next time!

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A generous sample from Tao Tea Leaf that I’m delighted to have received because it is so good. I’ve actually only rated a few teas this high. It has a fairly rich flavor and extra smooth and satisfying mouth feel. Deep fruit notes, apricot and lychee. Since I don’t sweeten my teas, when I run across one like this that’s naturally sweet it is extra special. Honey-ish sweetness but softer and smoother than honey. Compared to this tea, honey seems tart. It’s a beautiful flavor, not a lot of complex notes but more like beautifully harmonic chords. I’m putting this in my favorites box for times when I can use a flavor-smile.

The second steep had a consistent flavor profile though far more subtle than the first.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Strong preference for exploring teas au naturel, and unflavored (except for unprocessed ingredients, e.g., cocoa shells/nibs, vanilla beans, flowers, fruits…). Favorites lean in the direction of rich caramelly, malty blacks, any puerh, fresh floral oolongs and whites that have some dimension.

I am always up for swaps.

Beyond the experience of tea, I’m interested in exploring its medicinal aspects. Other interests … yoga, creative veggie cooking, environmental issues, animal welfare, music/guitar, lefty politics, preventive health/nutrition, biking, swimming, foosball, photography.

Here’s how I rate ’em:

95+: euphoria-inducing, le petite mort
91-94: extraordinary, exhilarating
85-90: delicious
81-84: definitely enjoyable
75-80: good, solid stuff
65-74: I’ll drink it, but without enthusiasm
45-64: something redeeming about it, but not much
31-44: just barely drinkable


Metro DC

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